Gov. Wolf: Clean Energy, Business, Faith, Environmental Advocacy Organizations Support Veto of Bill that Ignored Dangers of Climate Change

September 25, 2020

Nearly a dozen clean energy, business, faith and environmental advocacy organizations have expressed their support of Governor Tom Wolf’s recent veto of House Bill 2025, which ignored the dangers of climate change and would have prevented the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from taking any action to abate, control or limit carbon dioxide emissions in the commonwealth without the prior approval of the General Assembly.

Carbon dioxide is a harmful greenhouse gas and a major contributor to climate change, and this bill would have put a halt to DEP efforts to mitigate the impact climate change has on lives and livelihoods in Pennsylvania, including rulemaking currently being developed to allow Pennsylvania to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is an economically sound program that has a proven record of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in member states.

Clean Air Council:
“I congratulated Gov. Wolf last week on the successful Environmental Quality Board vote to advance his carbon limits program forward, and I applaud him today for vetoing a reckless, dangerous piece of legislation in House Bill 2025 that would have reversed that progress. House Bill 2025 would indefinitely obstruct any and all policy efforts to reduce carbon pollution in Pennsylvania. It’s that simple. Supporters deceitfully framed it instead as a mere process bill, one that would give the General Assembly a voice in setting climate policy. This is fundamentally misleading because, under state law, the legislature already has a robust role in the development of regulations and, quite frankly, we know the legislative majority’s position: block progress, deregulate the fossil fuel industry, and drill our way to ‘prosperity,’” saidJoseph Otis Minott, Esq., executive director and chief counsel of Clean Air Council. “Climate change is an urgent, existential threat that demands serious, commensurate policy solutions. Thank you, Gov. Wolf, for standing with the vast majority of Pennsylvanians who agree and who support your plan to cut carbon while creating tens of thousands of new jobs.”

Clean Power PA Coalition:
“We applaud Governor Wolf for rejecting House Bill 2025 and protecting efforts to cut carbon pollution and create jobs through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). With this veto he is standing with the overwhelmingly majority of Pennsylvanians who support RGGI.
A poll conducted earlier this month found that 72 percent of Pennsylvania voters are in favor of the state becoming part of RGGI. The initiative also has wide support from the business community because of the significant economic benefits it has brought to participating states and will deliver to Pennsylvania as well. Economic analysis of the program shows that it would create 27,000 jobs and boost the state economy by nearly $2 billion. It also will reduce asthma attacks and other health problems for thousands of Pennsylvania children and adults. The Governor’s veto of House Bill 2025 keeps the state moving in the right direction in tackling climate change and investing in the clean energy jobs of the future. RGGI also can provide resources to help communities affected by the continuing transition in our energy markets and ensure that workers are not left behind.”

Evangelical Environmental Network:
“The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) is thankful for Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto of the ill designed House Bill 2025. House Bill 2025, if signed, would have stopped Pennsylvania from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and continued fossil fuel pollution’s threat to our children’s health. House Bill 2025 would have kept Pennsylvania in the dark with continued dependence on dirty fossil fuels instead of rebuilding Pennsylvania with family-sustaining jobs to ensure a cleaner, brighter, and healthy future,” said the Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox, president and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.“It’s well past time to transition to a clean energy economy. Today we can have both the energy to power our economy and a clean environment. We no longer must choose between a strong economy and the life and health of our children, including the unborn. One in eight women give birth prematurely in the United States each year due to PM2.5, with the number increasing to one in five for Black women (30 percent of premature infants die).

“Over 2,700 Pennsylvanians died prematurely in 2018 due to Pennsylvania’s air pollution, due in good measure to the electric industry. Pennsylvania’s pollution is also believed to have contributed to more than 2,300 premature deaths in other states,” Hescox said. “All told, Pennsylvania holds the auspicious claim of having the third highest rate of air pollution-related deaths in the U.S., after California and New York. RGGI will help Pennsylvania defend our kids’ health, but our energy workers are caught in the middle. Men, women, and families suffer much to provide our energy, and we cannot leave them behind as has been done in the past. The reality is that coal plants will close in Pennsylvania, and RGGI will not likely hasten coal’s demise. That’s already occurring, and gas will be next. Fossil fuels are simply no longer economically viable. In reality, they never really were if you consider that our children paid the cost in their hearts and lungs. The true, average cost of coal is 14.87 US cent/kWh over what we paid on our meter due to pollution’s impact on public health.”

Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance:
“We applaud Gov. Wolf’s leadership,” said Matt Elliott, executive director for the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance (KEEA). “For years, Pennsylvania has sat on the sidelines as other states in the region enjoy the benefits of RGGI. The results from participating RGGI states are clear: their economies have grown, their air is cleaner, and their clean energy markets are expanding.”

Natural Resources Defense Council:
“The governor’s veto of this anti-climate legislation comes as the #ClimateCrisisjeopardizes people’s health, safety, and livelihoods,” said Mark Szybist, senior attorney of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate and Clean Energy Program, in a tweet.

Nuclear Powers PA Coalition:
“(Gov. Wolf) just took a huge stand for Pennsylvania’s #cleanenergy industry and the ~100K jobs it supports in our commonwealth,” said the Nuclear Powers PA Coalition in a tweet.

Moms Clean Air Force:
“Moms across the Commonwealth are thankful to Gov. Wolf for his veto of House Bill2025, which further shows his commitment to reducing climate pollution and protecting the health and future of Pennsylvania’s children. Linking to RGGI will protect our children from the power sector’s dirty air pollution that impacts health and contributes to climate change,” said Patrice Tomcik, Butler County resident and Project Manager for State Campaigns for Moms Clean Air Force. “Pennsylvania’s children and other vulnerable communities deserve to breathe clean air. Reductions in carbon and the associated harmful air pollution from the power sector can improve children’s health. A recent children’s study showed that by lowering harmful pollution from power plants, RGGI has helped to avoid asthma attacks, preterm births, low birth weight, and more. The health benefits were quantified between $191 million and $350 million. In addition, Pennsylvania’s participation in RGGI is critical to achieving the Governor’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.”

“We applaud Gov. Wolf for his veto of the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s misguided attack on climate solutions. RGGI enjoys the support of a bipartisan group of governors in the region, and this valuable program offers key mechanisms for reducing pollution and fighting climate change. Joining our neighboring states to the north, east and south in this alliance can create a healthier, more vibrant region with clean air that transcends borders,” said PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center’s Executive Director David Masur. “As the Western U.S. suffers through devastating wildfires, the Gulf Coast recovers from another hurricane, and after the Keystone state experienced a sweltering, record-hot summer, many Pennsylvanians are wondering how to fight the climate crisis here at home. Gov. Wolf is providing a bold answer. Given a choice between living in the past with dirty fuels or being on the right side of history, Gov. Wolf is showing he’s ready to protect our communities and future generations across the state.

“Still, the passage of House Bill 2025 by the Pennsylvania General Assembly serves as a stark reminder that many politicians are lagging behind the science of climate change and the will of their constituents to solve this existential crisis. It’s high time that politicians in Harrisburg come up with solutions to address climate change instead of continually putting up roadblocks to commonsense action,” Masur said. “PennEnvironment applauds the Environmental Quality Board for giving RGGI the green light and Gov. Wolf for vetoing this rollback of climate protections. We’re confident that the public comment period will show how broad and deep support runs for RGGI and for implementing solutions to address climate change.”

“We applaud Gov. Wolf for doing the right thing in vetoing House Bill 2025,” said Rob Altenburg, director of the PennFuture Energy Center. “It’s clear that the governor possesses the legal authority to implement a cap-and-invest carbon reduction program in Pennsylvania, and there’s no good reason for the legislature to attempt to take away that authority. The science is crystal clear: we need immediate and meaningful action to cut our carbon pollution, and implementing a program similar to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is our best chance to accomplish that goal.”

Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Environmental Defense Fund:
“The Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Environmental Defense Fund commend the Governor for vetoing House Bill 2025 and thank him and his administration for their steadfast leadership to advance pollution limits for power plants. House Bill 2025 would have allowed the General Assembly, through mere inaction, to block any proposal by the Administration to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This includes, but would not have been limited to, draft rulemaking now under consideration for Pennsylvania to link with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)– a market-based platform that has, for over a decade, proven to both reduce emissions and further economic investment and growth.

“Despite acknowledgment that climate change presents a very real and immediate threat to Pennsylvania, there has been no action taken by the General Assembly to address it. Over a decade ago, the legislature passed a law requiring recurrent climate change impact assessments and policy recommendations be developed, and time and time again the calls generated through those reports – matched by scientists, businesses, the military, investors and more worldwide – have gone unheeded.

“While we encourage legislative engagement on this critical issue, the legislature must commit to action. This includes affirmative steps to reduce emissions, protect communities and public health, help workers, and strategically position Pennsylvania for the inevitable, net-zero energy future. The options and opportunities are there; the days of idleness should be behind us.”

Sierra Club:
“The RGGI program is truly going to be the most important action Pennsylvania has taken on climate to date, and we applaud Gov. Wolf’s continued leadership in pushing this program forward. According to DEP’s analysis, RGGI will provide thousands of jobs and increase overall economic activity in PA by $1.9 billion by 2030. This is the program we need in a post-COVID economy recovery plan. Thank you Governor Wolf for acting on climate and working to protect future generations,” said Tom Schuster, Pennsylvania Clean Energy Program director for the Sierra Club. “If we do not start acting immediately to reign in climate disrupting pollution, it will be too late. We cannot sacrifice our children’s future in an attempt to support the coal industry, which is dying with or without RGGI. If the legislature wants to play a more productive role, they can start by supporting community transition packages or designating some of the RGGI allowance proceeds to help communities adapt to inevitable change.”

Further, a recent letter from a coalition of nearly two dozen businesses expressed their support for Pennsylvania’s participation in RGGI, noting, in part, “RGGI presents one of our most cost-efficient opportunities to accelerate emissions reductions while preserving Pennsylvania’s proud status as an economic powerhouse for the many years to come. We encourage Pennsylvania’s lawmakers and stakeholders to constructively work together to support and swiftly implement the Commonwealth’s participation in this important initiative.”

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